By John Rammas/ email@example.com
Faster game, more possessions, higher scores. This is modern basketball. Or at last, that’s what most people want to believe. After all, according to the original eighth rule of basketball as published by Dr. James Naismith in the local newspaper “The Triangle” in Springfield, Massachusetts on January 15, 1982, “a goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there”.
But you must have also heard the cliche “offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships”. Take for example the top six defensive teams in the Euroleague season so far. Five of them are also in the top eight of the ranking.
For UNICS the key in this performance is having John Brown (2.03m), who can play both the power forward and center position and do well on both ends of the court.
If the 10.2 points per average with a 52.8% efficiency in the two-pointers can speak for themselves, the 2.7 steals per game say it all about the 30-year-old American. This is the top performer in steals since 2007 by the only player with more than 2.5 per game in the last decade, since Eidson’s 2.64 in 2010-11 (Guerschon Yabusele had exactly 2.5 last year), and in total the 17th best ever. However, it has to be noted that before 2007, the way that a steal was registered by the EuroLeague stats service in certain countries was a bit different than today.
Still, this is the top three compared to Brown.
1. Jamel Ritz (Lugano Snakes 2000-01) – 3.7
-. Ivica Maric (Zadar 2000-01) – 3.7
3. Dejan Milojevic (Partizan 2004-05) – 3.5
17. John Brown (UNICS Kazan 2021-22) – 2.72
This season he is the only player with 2+ steals per average, but this is not news.
Last year, he was first overall (45) and fourth on average (1.88) in the EuroCup, reaching the finals with UNICS Kazan. He was also first in the VTB League (2.23 steals per average) and named “Defensive Player of the Year”. while also reaching the finals against CSKA Moscow.
“It’s a lost art” he explained (euroleague.net) at the beginning of the year. “I like to make it difficult for anybody to score. And I hate getting scored on, also. That kind of plays a balance for me”.
UNICS Kazan’s opponents increasingly agree with him. Both in the marginal defeat by last season’s finalists Barcelona (111-109 OT) at Palau Blaugrana and in the victory over the defending champions Anadolu Efes (75-67) he registered twice his career-high of 5 steals per game.
“Only thing you can teach on defense is defensive positioning. In terms of attacking the ball that’s just totally up to the player, depends on how bad you want to win”.
And John Brown really wants to win.